AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost says he no longer trusts their engineers after their car failed to deliver the expected gains in performance this year.
“During the winter months they told me the car is fantastic, we’re making big progress,” he said in today’s FIA press conference. “Then we come to Bahrain and we are nowhere.”
The team left the season-opening race in Bahrain without any points. Drivers Yuki Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries finished 11th and 14th respectively.
There were some encouraging signs of the car’s performance in practice for the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix today, said Tost. However he says he “expected a much better car” after the team slumped to ninth in the championship last year.
“We struggled in Bahrain, it looks a little bit different here,” he said. “I hope that at least we [get] one car in Q3, but we have to do a lot of things to make the car faster, especially on the aerodynamic side.
“There are different programmes going on. The engineers tell me that we make some good progress, but I don’t trust them anymore. I just want to see the lap time because this is the only thing which counts.”
He summarised the AT04’s shortcoming as: “Not enough downforce, therefore the car is unstable under braking, overheating the rear tyres, washing-out at the apex, bad traction. Everything you need to do a good lap time.”
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Tost said the team needs to show it has chosen the right development direction for its car. “During the winter months we saw that, at least on the paper, on a computer, we made big progress in comparison to last year’s car,” he said. “But all these figures nowadays, as I mentioned before, I don’t trust them anymore.
“I want to see now with the next steps that we go in the right direction, that we can improve the performance of the car, that we are able to do this. There is a special design work on the floor, brake ducts and all the other aerodynamic parts.
“I think now with all the knowledge we have after the Bahrain test and after the Bahrain race, the engineers should be in a position to sort it out and to come up with new parts which improve the performance of the car.”
Tsunoda and De Vries ended today’s practice 13th and 17th respectively. Chief race engineer Jonathan Eddolls said the team sacrificed some of its running to conduct tests to better understand how the car was performing.
“A lot of analysis had been completed by the…
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